With Audi gearing to shift to all-electric cars, the race is on to transition its Audi Sport division into an electric-only performance brand. Currently, the performance brand only has a single electric model, the RS e-tron GT, with the e-tron SUV and Sportback only wearing an S badge; and the division has yet to show more potent derivatives of the new Q4 e-tron and Q4 e-tron Sportback.
That trend is set to reverse rapidly, in line with Audi’s wider plans to offer more than 20 electric models worldwide by 2025 and for electrified cars to account for 40 percent of its sales.
- RS6 e-tron to get subtle cosmetic changes over standard A6 e-tron
- Likely to debut alongside standard model in 2023
- Audi eyeing a 20 car EV line-up by 2025
Crucial to the transformation plan will be maintaining the variety and completeness of Audi’s line-up (which today comprises 17 model lines) to avoid losing customers along the way, so a near-direct replacement for every current model is on the cards. For example, the recently revealed A6 e-tron concept heavily previews the electric successor to today’s A6, and it will no doubt follow its predecessor in being offered with a performance range-topper tuned by Audi Sport.
Although the A6 e-tron isn’t intended as an immediate replacement for the A6, it will occupy the equivalent segment in the EV market, and Audi bosses have all but confirmed that an estate version is on the way, too.
All of which means the RS6 Avant is due for an electric successor as well, continuing a model line that stretches back to the V10-engined C5 generation of 2002.
RS6 e-tron could debut alongside all-electric A6 in 2023
While the current C8-generation RS6 arrived two years after the standard A6, the RS6 e-tron could well be launched at the same time as the standard A6 e-tron in 2023, following the example set by the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT.
The two are likely to be more closely matched in terms of design than the current A6 and RS6, too, given the subtle differences between standard and hot versions of current Audi EVs. So, expect a slight toning down of the RS6’s flared arches, outlandish wheels and prominent rear spoiler.
The regular A6 e-tron will be the second Audi model to use the premium-focused PPE architecture for EVs that Audi is co-developing with Porsche (following the Q6 e-tron SUV, a sister model to Porsche’s Macan EV). This will offer the flexibility of various drivetrain layouts and power outputs.
The A6 e-tron concept has one electric motor on each axle for combined outputs of 475hp and 800Nm – less power but exactly as much torque as the RS6’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8.
Expect it to closely match the outputs of the top-rung RS e-tron GT, which packs 598hp (or 646hp in its ‘overboost’ mode) and 830Nm of torque to offset the inevitable added weight of its large battery pack. So, a 0-100kph time of just over 3.0sec is highly likely.
It remains unclear, however, whether the PPE platform – an evolution of the J1 architecture used by the e-tron GT and its Porsche Taycan sibling – can accommodate more than two motors. The e-tron S and e-tron S Sportback SUVs use a tri-motor set-up, but they sit on an adapted version of the MLB Evo underpinning that is used by the Volkswagen Group’s largest ICE models.
As demonstrated by the A6 e-tron concept, the PPE platform can accommodate a 100kWh battery pack, which is good for a claimed range of more than 700km in this application.
The RS6 e-tron won’t be able to match that figure, but it will benefit from the PPE platform’s ability to accept rapid-charging rates of as much as 270kW, whereby it could gain up to 300km of range in just 10 minutes. Plus, because the battery pack itself is spread out across the cabin floor and the wheels are pushed out to the corners, it will offer comparable interior space and load capacity to today’s RS6.
Another highlight of the PPE platform is that it has been designed to underpin both SUV-sized and lower-slung models in the premium segment, so it offers full flexibility when it comes to wheelbase length and battery capacity.
Upcoming new Audis for India
Shifting focus to the Indian market, Audi has introduced its all-electric vehicle line-up – the e-tron SUV, e-tron Sportback, e-tron GT, and RS e-tron GT – here in the past few months. The range is set to further expand next year, with the Q4 e-tron likely to arrive by late 2022.
Audi will be looking to bolster its regular line-up with the re-introduction of models such as the facelifted Q5, the new Q3, the facelift Q7. All three will arrive as petrol-only models, with Audi no longer offering a diesel engine option for any of its launches in India.
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Audi A5 Sportback
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Audi e-tron GT
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Audi Q3 Sportback
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Audi Q8 e-tron
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